Since studies have shown that a higher emotional intelligence (EI) can be more important for future success than a high IQ and that EI can be learned, you will do well to practice ways to raise your child’s emotional intelligence. Thankfully, it is not hard, or even formal. Having a high EI will help your child become more self-aware so that they can manage their moods, motivate themselves, show empathy to others, and manage relationships in a healthy manner.
1. Ask Your Child Questions – Keep the lines of communication open with your child by asking questions each morning and throughout the day for younger kids, and for older kids after school. A good time to get older children to answer questions is during car rides. Your questions should be open-ended so that your child can answer with a really thoughtful answer and not just a “yes” or a “no”. Below is the example of open-ended questions.
1. What class do you wish they offered in school?
2. What subject would you erase from the school day?
3. Who is your favourite teacher so far?
4. Which is your favourite subject?
5. Which house rule would you change?
6. What is your favourite activity we do as a family?
7. What do you wish we would do more often?
8. Which board is game/computer game/Ipad app your favourite?
9. What is your least favourite chore?
2. Listen to Your Child – Anytime your child is talking, practice active listening to them. (e.g. Ensure you gave them your undivided attention either putting your phone or silent or switch while the child is around. The most important of all listen to them with your eyes. Lastly, don’t interrupt child while he or she is talking). Tell them what you think they said by repeating back to them what they said in your own words. If you are wrong about interpretation of what they were trying to communicate, ask them to explain again. Do not get frustrated. Communication is a two-way street, and sometimes it takes a few times to get it right.
3. Demonstrate Empathy Starting with Your Child – Due to our daily stress and the problem, we lack empathy towards our self and towards our loved ones. That is what Children learn. Demonstrate Empathy Starting with your children. Children learn what empathy is by having it demonstrated to them. A lack of empathy can point to many bad choices, from theft to even murder. One of the most important things you can ever show your child is empathy. Empathy is the ability to accept and understand someone else’s feelings without having to experience them yourself.
4. Allow Your Child to Express Their Feelings – When your child is expressing feelings, even if they are quite strong, let them express them. If you don’t allow them to express their strong feeling at that time. Their strong feeling will came out at later stage which will be like Volcano eruptions. Making them stuff down their true feelings is dangerous to their well being. You can guide your child on how to direct strong, negative feelings such as anger and rage appropriately.
5. Practice Different Circumstances – Using T.V., the news, and books to discuss various scenarios that could happen with your child and how they might deal with them, is a valuable exercise. For example, talking to a pre-teen about how to deal with bullying behaviour or peer pressure is a good way to let them practice potential answers and choices before it ever happens.
6. Point Out Stressful Situations – When you notice that your child could be stressed out or you know they are going through a time that is stressful to most people, point it out to them so that they can learn to become self-aware when they are approaching stressful situations.
7. Teach Your Child Stress-Reducing Tactics – When discussing with your child the fact that they may be suffering from stress, also teach them how to deal with that stress. Teach them coping mechanisms like deep breathing, meditation, prayer, or other ways to deal with stress that are positive.
8. Encourage Your Child to Practice Stress Reduction – Some stress can be avoided by learning to say no to doing too much. A lot of people are “yes” people and do not know how to say no, thus adding too much to their plate and causing undue stress. Teach your child to avoid this situation by evaluating each offer carefully without saying yes right away.
Working with your child to develop their emotional intelligence is something that will pay off for years to come. It takes just a little bit of extra thought and work, and you’ll need to look at your own EI while you’re coaching your child. However, it will all be more than worth it.